My Vintage Year | bon anniversaire

With a birthday less than a week away, a fellow vino comrade asked “do you mind if I ask your vintage year?”

I am in every definition an “off-vintage.” When I was first exploring the wondrous world of wine, I came across small lot French producers with vintages that were less than dazzling, at least according to vintage charts. I began to search out 1980 Bordeaux and Rhone and 1982 red Bourgogne. In celebration of my vintage year, I pursued with tenacity a red burgundy, 1986. This was a precarious year of rain and rot, with early bloom and poor weather during fruit maturation, this vintage was generously scored with a 65 (Parker) for red Cote du Nuit. Like my end of summer fitness, “my” vintage was most certainly expected to be dead, flabby or just plain lousy. 

We opened a Gevrey-Chambertin, Les Cazetiers, Serafin with modest eagerness. But like my awkward adolescence turned Amazonian, fifteen years later there was surprise in this off-vintage. With a case of botrytis, she took nearly two hours to find her own rhythm. With a healthy deep color and a clean nose accompanied by an inviting welcome of savory herbs and forest floor, this sleek physique with plenty of acid but not overly tart, medium bodied dame was balanced in peculiarity and allure. While not a Bardot, this 1986 elegantly channeled Anouk Aimee. And let’s be candid, we do not always desire the outspoken and outrageous. Sometimes the sweet spot is in tempered, sophisticated, regal austerity. 

You can only perceive real beauty in a person as they get older…Anouk Aimee. 

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